Charges dropped After Viral Video Shows Police Trying to Rip One-Year-Old From Mother pixabay

A Florida woman, who featured in a widely shared video last year coughing on a fellow shopper at a Pier 1 store in Jacksonville, has been sentenced to 30 days in Duval County Jail with credit for one day previously served.

The judge also ordered the woman, Debra Hunter, to six months probation and said she has to participate in a mental health evaluation along with anger management. She was also given a $500 fine, and was ordered to pay restitution to cover the costs the victim incurred for a Covid-19 test, reported First Coast News.

Debra was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault in June 2020 after the victim made a video of Debra intentionally coughing on her after an argument with employees inside the store.

Last week, the judge heard from five more witnesses on Debra’s behalf, including her husband. Doug Hunter spoke about her good character and the numerous problems their family faced prior to the incident.

“It was like air being inflated into a balloon, and it finally got to the point where she couldn’t handle any more air," said Doug, who shared that they lost everything they owned to a house fire. "And then she finally rubbed up against something and just popped," he added.

Debra also offered testimony, which focused on her family suffering for her mistakes.

She told the judge her children continue to lose friends. “I watch as my kids lower their heads and turn the opposite direction, so they won’t be recognized or approached," she said. "And I know exactly what they’re feeling because I do the same thing."

The judge also heard from the victim, Heather Sprague, who is a brain tumor patient and a mother. She spoke about the anxiety she felt after the coughing incident. “I was stunned in the moment, and increasingly fearful in the aftermath," she said. “I worried for the health and safety of my children, and wondered how in the world I could possibly isolate to protect them... in a household of 12...if I had been intentionally infected," she added.

As the criminal case has progressed, each time Sprague has been called upon to interact with the process, she again experiences that "anxiety and anger and other emotions associated with the events."

Last month, the sentencing process began with Debra's neighbor testifying about her good character. "I'm asking you Judge [James] Ruth that in the moment you go about serving justice to Debra, please try to empathize with how difficult it must be for her to attempt to move forward each new day through the relentless court of public opinion that will neither forgive or forget," the neighbor said.

There were also documents comprising letters from witnesses and Debra, including one she wrote to the victim, along with two-dozen pages of threats and insults that the Nassau County woman said she received after the video featuring her got viewed widely.

In the video, Debra, 53, is seen all angry and asking Spraque, “Do you really need this? What do you want to do - post it for you? How bout that?” While talking rudely, Debra, who was not wearing a face mask at that time, also made obscene gestures, reported News4Jax.

“I think I’ll get really close to you and cough on you then, how’s that?" Debra is then seen deliberately coughing on Sprague.

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